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Soft commodities: Argentina seeks a crop of cash

Some of Argentina’s biggest companies are raising finance to invest in the booming agriculture sector in Latin America, on the back of steep rises in soft commodity prices.

Cresud, the agricultural arm of one of Argentina’s biggest investment groups, Irsa, and the country’s biggest landowner, announced at the end of February that it planned to issue a further 180 million shares to raise $300 million.

The company, which is listed on the Buenos Aires stock exchange and Nasdaq, plans to use the fresh capital to buy land in Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay (until now outside Argentina it had a presence only in Brazil).

Another leading Argentine agricultural group, Los Grobo, which is mainly owned by the Grobocopatel family, also recently announced that it was forming a joint venture with Brazilian investment group Pactual Capital Partners (PCP) to invest in agricultural land in Brazil. It is understood that Pactual plans to invest $100 million in Los Grobo for a minor stake in the company.

PCP was founded by André Esteves, aged 38, who became one of Brazil’s youngest billionaires after UBS acquired Brazilian investment bank Pactual in 2006. As well as running UBS Pactual, last August he became the global head of fixed income at UBS.

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